Jackie Robinson statue stolen from Kansas park


Authorities in Kansas are searching for vandals who stole a life-size bronze statue commemorating Jackie Robinson, the first black major league player of the modern era, after it was cut off at the ankles, leaving behind only the shoes and the base of the statue. .

Thursday after receiving a call from League 42, the minor league nonprofit that installed the statue at McAdams Park, Andrew Ford said Saturday. police spokesperson.

He estimated the statue weighed at least 100 pounds.

“I don’t know what the motivation is,” Ford said. “All considerations are being looked at.”

Ford said police had surveillance footage of the statue being cut down and placed in the bed of a truck that was stopped or parked “at least in a way that it can, you know, be discreetly hidden.”

He said at least two people were believed to be involved. Ford said the robbery occurred early Thursday morning. He declined to specify what was used to cut down the statue because that was part of the investigation.

Robinson, who had been a young star with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues, broke the color barrier and became the first black player to play in the Major Leagues when he stepped onto Ebbets Field during his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15. , 1947.

Robinson became a symbol of hope for racial equality in the country. After retiring from baseball, he continued to work on civil rights issues and broke barriers in advertising, broadcasting and business.

Mr. Robinson “used his prestige as a star athlete to drum up support for the civil rights movement.” according to the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute.. Dr. King said Robinson “made my success possible.” according to the Baseball Hall of Fame. “Without him, I would never have been able to do what I did.”

Bob Lutz, executive director of League 42, who takes his name for Robinson number he was wearing, said it was a challenge to erect the statue because the group had to raise money and needed approvals to use his name and likeness.

The statue, which has an estimated value of $75,000, was installed in April 2021, he said.

Lutz said he believed the robbery was an isolated incident and had no idea what the motive for the robbery might have been.

“I am hopeful that this was a purely ignorant decision made by ignorant people,” he said. “That they didn’t know any better.”

Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan he said during a press conference on Friday that he was “frustrated by the actions of those individuals who had the audacity to take the statue,” noting that the theft occurred just before February, which is Black History Month.

“Our city wants the statue back,” the chief said. “We also want the people who stole treasure from our community to be held accountable for their actions, and I assure you they will.”

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